Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What's New?

 I haven't really blogged at all about the new job I just started the other day. I really love it! 
I mean, I would love a teaching job more. I would love to get paid more than $11.31 an hour. I would love to have access to health insurance that doesn't require me to pay $250 per month. (Seriously, for that cost I may as well just save my money, and pay cash if I actually do need to go to the doctor... which I usually don't. If you want to see how $250 a month would be a giant blow to my budget, go read about my budget!) 

But other than that... it is a lot of fun, and just about the opposite of the aide job I had last school year. The staff members are nice, and they're so much more cheerful and laid back than at the last school! While they do expect the kids to have good behavior and work hard, they also don't spend the entire day hollering at the children. They choose their battles. They smile a lot. They give the kids choices. 

While the last school was like a punch in the gut to my confidence, this school is reassuring me that there is nothing wrong with me and that I could certainly handle being a teacher (contrary to what the principal at the last school said.) In fact, although there are three other aides, plus the teacher, plus me, in the classroom, several times I have already found myself in charge of the entire group of children for a short while when everyone else was on break or called out of the room. And I've realized once again that you're not really a giant pushover if you allow the children to talk quietly while they do their morning work, if you don't immediately move a child to "yellow" on the behavioral chart if they get up and run to the window to see if it is raining, and that children will actually behave better if they are happy and comfortable. 

You want to hear about the children in my class? I am going to give them fake names of course, but since I may blog about work once in a while, it will be easier if I don't always have to refer to all of them as "kid." There are twelve of them, all first and second graders with intellectual disabilities. 

Noddy is a first grader with Down syndrome. He is super adorable, with longish blond hair and eyes that kind of bulge out behind his huge, round glasses. He can be really naughty... refusing to work, or running off down the hallway on the way to gym... but he is also so sweet, spontaneously running up and hugging you, or plopping himself down on your lap and demanding that you sing "Where Is Thumbkin" to him.

Phoebe - Another first grader with Down syndrome. She is tiny and has long hair that goes down past her waist. She loves to play with Noddy. She is really stubborn, and if you ask her to do something, or ask her any question at all, she will often yell, "No!" just for the sake of being ornery. So instead we ask her to help with things. For instance, instead of saying, "Go line up for gym," you can say, "Help me by lining up for gym." And she does it because she loves to be helpful!
Raven - A very friendly second grader who loves individual attention and seems amazed by everything you tell her! I showed her how to use the Jacob's Ladder toy that she found in the box of sensory toys today. She thought I was magic!

Myna - A cute-as-a-button second grader who has a speech delay, in addition to whatever intellectual disabilities she has. It is often hard to understand what she is saying, because sometimes she is speaking Spanish, and sometimes she is speaking English but just isn't intelligable. She has a huge smile and a tiny ponytail that seems to spout out of the top of her head. 

Martin - I don't know much about Martin yet, and I'm not sure why. He is quieter and not as quick to engage as the others are. Maybe I can tell you more about him next week. 

Finch- A cheerful little second grader who has autism and loves letters, numbers, planets, Spiderman, and apples. I don't know why apples, but he sure loves them! He is friendly and does talk a lot, although it is usually to ask you "What color is this?" or "What's that letter?" (He knows the answer, but just wants to hear you say it) or "What's that noise?" (because he hears and notices any random noise that pops up in the background) or sometimes, at random moments, "Hey! What are you doing?" He loves to be tickled and will run up to you and then start running away, laughing, hoping you'll chase him and tickle him. 

Jaeger - A friendly second grader who is probably the most talkative and social kid in the classroom, the one most lilely to blend in with "typically developing" kids. He likes to make jokes, such as suggesting that maybe the teacher was late this morning because she had drowned in the rain. He loves to show off how much he knows, and he'll call you over fifty million times during Free Reading time to show you a Word Wall word that he found in whatever book he's reading. 

Grebe - reminds me of Animal from the Muppets, In the traditional view of intellect... like, if someone gave him an IQ test... he probably operates at about the level of a seventeen or eighteen month old toddler. His speech is really limited. But he never stops moving. Never. And he has cerebral palsy, and uses a wheelchair or stander most of the time, so you have to imagine this dark haired little kid sitting in a wheelchair waving all of his arms and legs around at all times, usually banging on something as hard as he can, always with a giant grin on his face! But when he's banging on something, he has perfect rhythm! So if the teacher and all the kids are all, for instance, counting to ten in unison, Grebe will be banging with all his might on the tray of his stander to the rhythm of the counting. I really wish I could put that little boy at a drum set and let him go wild!

Wren - I just met Wren because she's been absent for a while, so I'll have to tell you more about her later.

Sora - Sora is a very talkative second grader who has a lot of anxiety, especially about times. She loves to have a timer set for every possible activity, and she will constantly let everyone know how many minutes are left, on a minute-by-minute basis. She has a lot of trouble with social skills, which is sad because she really wants to be friends with other girls, both in the special ed class and in the regular classes. She will walk up to random kids and just demand that they tell their mothers to bring them to a certain restaurant on a certain day because she's going to be there, and if their family brings them there, then they can see each other and play and become best friends. And the other girls mostly just ignore her... the girls in our class because they struggle with social skills themselves and aren't sure how to interact, and the girls in the regular classes because they just find her sort of overwhelming. 

Teal - I have not met Teal at all yet, because she's been absent all week! We'll try again next week!

So now you know all of the kids, and can look forward to amusing anecdotes about them in the near future, I'm sure! 


  1. I'm so glad you're enjoying your new job!!! That really is such a blessing! :-)

  2. I cannot tell you how happy this post made me! First of all, I'm glad you're getting the support you deserve. Anyone who writes as well as you do simply has to have a place in a school system! Your descriptions of the kids touched my heart. They are lucky to have someone like you, who sees and values their individuality.

    1. I really love the kids. And I am lucky that these particular kids really are a joy to be around. Some stubborn ones, but no biters or pinchers or chair-throwers! (Knock on wood...)

  3. I've subbed in classes like that. You, my dear, must have endless amounts of energy. Enjoy every bit of it!
    love, Jill

    1. The weird thing is, during the day while I'm there I feel like I'm full of energy. But as soon as I get home, it's like my battery went dead!

  4. Congrats on your new job!! It sounds like it's amazing and it sounds like you'd be a great teacher!

  5. Wow! You are awesome! These kids really need you and you need them too. You were made for this job! When they realize what an asset you are to these kids maybe they'll give you a raise!!!! This goes a long ways towards ONN!!! or was that ODD???


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